west fertilizer plant explosion

Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

A Texas agriculture industry group is calling for more stringent reporting by people who possess the fertilizer ammonium nitrate. The Texas Ag Industries Association (TAIA) wants people with fewer than 10,000 pounds of the chemical to disclose to state officials how much they're storing and where.

Filipa Rodrigues/KUT

The Texas State Fire Marshal’s Office says the deaths of 12 people responding to last year’s explosion at the West Fertilizer plant could have been prevented.

The Fire Marshal’s report [PDF] released Thursday night says the first responders killed in the April 2013 fertilizer plant explosion in West,Texas  were not prepared or equipped to deal with such a dangerous situation.

The report says that is not because the first responders failed to perform their duties as they had been trained, but due to a “systemic deficiency in the training and preparation” of the firefighters.

Reuters /Mike Stone /Landov

From StateImpact Texas:

A year after a deadly explosion at a fertilizer plant in Texas, a federal agency is releasing a report saying the disaster was preventable.

The Chemical Safety Board, which investigates chemical accidents and issues recommendations to ensure public safety, is presenting its preliminary findings tonight in the town of West, Texas, where the fire and subsequent explosion last year took 15 lives, injured hundreds, and destroyed homes and schools.

Filipa Rodrigues, KUT News

It’s been one year since a fertilizer plant exploded in the town of West, Texas – just north of Waco.
15 people were killed and more than 150 were injured. Dozens of buildings were also destroyed in the blast.

A year later there are many signs of recovery and rebuilding in the small town.
But, for some, the rebuilding process has been difficult.

West resident Loretta Volcik says overall, the past year has been filled with one thing: Questioning.

Filipa Rodrigues, KUT News

The Texas town of West is getting $4.85 million more to help recover from the fertilizer plant explosion that happened one year ago this week. Fifteen people were killed and hundreds injured in the blast on April 17, 2013. 

Governor Perry authorized the funding a day before a ceremony to mark the first anniversary of the disaster. West Mayor Tommy Muska didn't question the timing of the grant.

"It shows a lot of cooperation between local, state and federal that we can come together and secure these funds within one day of the anniversary and move forward," Muska told KUT. 

When firetrucks blew through the small town of West, Texas, on the evening of April 17, 2013, sirens screaming, naturally everybody was curious. People got in their cars and went to see the fire at the West fertilizer plant. For 10 minutes, they watched from cars and backyards as the fire grew ever bigger. A few moved as close as they could because they were filming on their smartphones. At no time did it occur to anybody that they might be in danger.

Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

The government shutdown has halted the federal investigation into the West Fertilizer Plant explosion. The explosion in April killed 15 people and injured hundreds of others.

“Some of the brightest scientists in the world are home today rather than doing their work to protect, and give us information so that we can have the right rules and regulations to protect our environment,” Sen. Ben Cardin, D-MD, said during a press conference yesterday. “The monitoring and enforcement is not being done as it should be done.” Cardin chairs the Senate Subcommittee on Water and Wildlife.

The ranks of furloughed workers includes most employees on the Chemical Safety Board, which investigates industrial accidents such as the West Fertilizer Plant explosion.

Students are heading back to school in West, Texas today. Many of them will be going back to temporary classrooms. That’s because April’s deadly explosion at the West Fertilizer Plant destroyed most of the city’s public schools, along with hundreds of homes.

Filipa Rodrigues, KUT News

A U.S. Senator who oversees environmental regulation is urging state governors to increase safety standards for the storage of ammonium nitrate in the wake of the explosion in West.  Fifteen people were killed in April when a fertilizer plant exploded in the town just north of Waco.

California Democrat Barbara Boxer chairs the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works.

“If there’s even one more tragic death from improper storage of ammonium nitrate, we’ll have lost this opportunity. We have the information. The information is power. And the people who have power need to do something about this," Boxer said during a news conference Tuesday. 


Today is the deadline for people in West to apply for federal assistance.

It’s been nearly eight weeks since the April 17 fertilizer plant explosion that killed 15 people and destroyed around 150 homes. So far, FEMA has registered 789 survivors and allocated $7.6 million to assist in the recovery.


The head of the U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB) says other government agencies are getting in the way of its investigation into the fertilizer plant explosion in West.

In a letter to U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer, CSB chairman Rafael Moure-Eraso says the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives blocked CSB investigators from accessing the site for a month, and "altered or removed almost all relevant physical evidence from the site."


The State Fire Marshal’s Office has determined ammonium nitrate stored at the West Fertilizer Plant is what exploded last month. But investigators are still trying to figure out what caused the fire that led to that explosion.

As KUT News learned in a conversation with UT Austin chemistry professor David Vandenbout:

Mary Helen Leonard at http://www.flickr.com/photos/drstrangeglove/5588916543/

The recovery effort continues in West, where a fertilizer plant explosion killed 15 people last month and destroyed dozens of homes.

KP Tripathi/Flickr http://www.flickr.com/photos/kptripathi/5953182596/

The United States Senate will hold a hearing into the fertilizer plant explosion in the town of West, U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-California) announced Monday. Sen. Boxer chairs the Environment and Public Works Committee.

“I cannot rest until we get to the bottom of what caused the disaster in West, Texas and the tragic loss of life," Sen. Boxer said in a statement. "We must ensure that facilities like the one in West are complying with chemical safety laws. We will look at how the laws on the books are being enforced and whether there is a need to strengthen them."

Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

A memorial service is scheduled today in West for two brothers killed in the fertilizer plant explosion. Douglas and Robert Snokhous were both captains with the West Volunteer Fire Department.

A total of 12 emergency responders died in the blast. Services for some of the others killed are planned for later this week.

KUT News

Some residents in the town of West are still waiting to return home as building inspectors go house to house, making sure the residences are safe to re-occupy after last week’s explosion at a fertilizer plant. The blast killed 14 people, 12 of them first responders. 

The Mayor Pro-Tem of West, Steve Vanek, is asking people to be patient.   

“It is not safe," Vanek said at an afternoon news conference. "We do have engineers and building inspectors on the ground determining which houses are safe and which are not.”

Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

Students at West Independent School District, in West, Texas, returned to school today for the first time since the fertilizer plant explosion that killed fourteen people and wounded about 200 others.

Counselors and therapy dogs are on hand to support students struggling to deal with the aftermath of the blast.

Filipa Rodrigues, KUT News

St Mary’s Church in West, Texas was packed with hundreds of residents grieving for those who were injured or killed by the explosion Wednesday evening.

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If the astounding explosion in West caught most Texans off-guard, it might be because they weren't aware that a chemical facility holding tremendous amounts of a deadly explosive fuel could operate within the confines of a town, incredibly close to homes and schools.